670 crew members from 42 different countries took part in the 11-month race around the world

The 12-strong Clipper Race fleet were given a heroes’ welcome in London after completing an 11-months circumnavigation of the world.

Having conquered Mother Nature’s toughest conditions during the 40,000 mile ocean odyssey, the Henri Lloyd team named as the overall Clipper 2013-14 Race, claiming a total of 11 podiums and five overall wins to beat second-placed yacht GREAT Britain.

Thousands of spectators lined the banks of the River Thames to welcome home 270 international amateur crew on 12 70ft yachts as they formed a Parade of Sail which concluded with Tower Bridge lifting for the top three teams.

A total of 670 crew members from 42 different countries have battled hurricanes, survived a tornado, dealt with medical evacuations and the miraculous rescue of a man who went overboard in the Pacific Ocean for 90 minutes.

Henri Lloyd
was presented with the Clipper Race trophy at a prizegiving ceremony in St Katharine Docks this afternoon having been victorious in the world’s longest ocean race.

Canadian skipper Eric Holden said: ‘It has been a life-changing adventure for the crew and I. The team’s drive, determination and strength has led us to exhaustion at times.

‘Whenever I thought the team couldn’t be pushed any harder, they dug deeper through some of the worst sailing conditions I have ever seen on the planet. This is a very special moment for the team and I to be crowned champions.’

‘An incredible achievement’

Sir Ben Ainslie, BAR Team Principle and Henri Lloyd ambassador, congratulated the team: ‘What a fantastic effort by Eric and the team on board Henri Lloyd.

‘The race has been a real marathon around the world over the past 11 months. To take part is an incredible achievement and congratulations to all those who helped the team claim the win overall.’

Clipper Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, nonstop round the world in 1968/9 said: ‘The crews have crossed all the world’s oceans, suffered the frustrations of the calms, the apprehension of the largest waves to be seen anywhere on the planet, experienced the vagaries of the weather systems, seen ports and scenery that they never expected, met people from vary different cultures, and, perhaps most of all, shared all these adventures with a group of people who were strangers just over a year ago but who will now remain friends for life.     
‘They have widened their horizons and have memories to cherish that can only be won through real hands-on participation.’

Crew members aged between 18 and 74 and from all walks of life took on the challenge – 40 per cent had never sailed before they participated. Each team was led by one professional skipper.
Meg Reilly, an American round the world crew member on Henri Lloyd, said: ‘This year has been a test of will and determination, finding our individual limits and pushing beyond them.’
The race left the UK’s capital on 1 September 2013 and since then the teams have visited 16 ports in 11 countries and six continents during the 16-race series. The circumnavigation sees people from all walks of life join together in the only race of its kind for amateur sailors.

Pictures: The Clipper fleet pass through London’s Tower Bridge; the winning Henri Lloyd yacht team; a spectator boat. Credit: www.clipperroundtheworld.com